Elephants saved by vodka

In Russia, trainers served warm Vodka to freezing elephants to save them from encroaching cold. The animals were not intoxicated. [AP]


  1. I have no idea about elephants, but I know that for humans, this would be a horrible idea.  It increases blood flow to the extremities, which is perhaps good for avoiding frostbite, but bad for avoiding hypothermia.  And of the two, hypothermia is the one that will kill you

    1. It seems like frostbite was the main concern (though the AP headline might be a little misleading). Elephants are massive enough that it would take some time for their entire bodies to cool off enough to risk hypothermia, but their extremities would be at risk of frostbite right away – especially the ears, which are huge, thin and evolved especially to disperse heat. So for an elephant stuck in very low temperatures for a relatively short period of time, something that increases blood flow might be just the right thing.

      1. Yeah, I was just reading up on elephant frostbite.  I came across this gem:

        Frostbite affecting the ears and prepuce has been recorded in a circus elephant

        And I said to myself, frostbite of the what now?

        having looked it up, I think I need to go find myself a unicorn chaser

        1.  Hey, you think that shoveling elephant shit is the worst job in the circus, imagine being one of the three people that has to keep the delicate parts of the elephant warm by rubbing them with your hands, and drawing the short straw.

    2.  According to Wikipedia, elephants usually have difficulty radiating excess heat (one of the reasons that they take frequent mud baths), and their skin is almost an inch thick, so it’s possible that the main effect of ingesting ethanol would simply be that they get more calories in their system, which of course is good in cold conditions.

  2. Suddenly the soundness of the method used in the Mythubsters episode on this topic is called into question! 

  3. The animals were not intoxicated?  Really?  Is this just a throwaway, or is there reason to believe that this particular vodka did not have the same effect most other vodka has?

    1. An elephant weighs 50 times as much as a human. (Assuming a 4-tonne elephant and an 80kg human.) They were given the equivalent of two decilitres to one of us – enough to get in a good mood, perhaps.

    2. This was based on reports that the elephants asserted loudly and repeatedly that they were not drunk, and had only had a couple drinks.
      They also angrily demanded their car keys for 2 minutes, after which they settled down and professed their love for everyone present.

  4. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and thus speeds body cooling.  It’s a myth that alcohol can warm the drinker.  The people who gave alcohol to these cold elephants were simpletons.  End of story

    1. Neal: Del… Why did you kiss my ear? 
      Del: Why are you holding my hand? 
      Neal: [frowns] Where’s your other hand? 
      Del: Between two pillows… 
      Neal: Those aren’t pillows! 

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